In His Father's Image


janice_icon.gif matt_icon.gif matt-jr_icon.gif molly_icon.gif

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Scene Title In His Father's Image
Synopsis Matt and Molly's final day in Los Angeles becomes Matt's final day with his son.
Date January 2, 2011

Los Angeles, California

"Monday is rapidly approaching."

That's what the man on the radio had said, at any rate. The holidays are finally coming to a close, both Christmas and New Year's have passed like so much water under a bridge, and 2011 has come and greeted a world slowly allowing its personal and political freedoms to spiral down an ever-clogging drain of facism and militarism.

It is hard to find a station on the radio that isn't discussing the state of the country, and specifically New York City. Every pundit from the east coast to the west is trying to give their input on America's first police state, a city shackled under martial law because it has been allowed to descend so far into a level of disorganization and chaos that it more resembles a third world country than America.

That for the fourth year in a row, the mass-televised New Year's Eve broadcast was done from Boston, Massachusetts helps solidify that the nation as a whole does not want to be reminded of New York City and what has become of it.

Thousands of miles away on the country's west coast, California might as well feel like another world entirely. The streets aren't patrolled by National Guardsmen in armored personnel carriers. Police don't wear military-issue flak jackets and the average citizen doesn't keep their eyes averted to the ground in some odd juxtapositionning of shame and fear.

Outside of the one-floor ranch style residence of Matthew Parkman's ex-wife, morning sunlight spills down over the roof and a cool breeze blows at the fronds of palm trees behind the house. The coast isn't far from here, sandy beaches and boardwalks that are just walk enough to make the New York winter seem like a distant memory. That this is one of the first few days of sunshine that has been had is miraculous.

On pulling up to the house, Matthew Parkman notices something unusual out of the front window of his car. Another vehicle, slowly pulling away from the curb out front of Janice's house. A black sedan with government plates and tinted windows quietly turning onto the street and driving away from the house. That Matthew's adopted daughter rests in the seat beside him perhaps heightens his sense of awareness and uneasiness on the sight.

That Janice hasn't called twists a knot in his stomach.

This was supposed to be their last day together, a day out with Matthew Junior and family. A day out with Molly, her adoptive father and her step-brother. All it takes to throw that into some small semblance of unease is the presence of a black sedan to remind Matt just his ephemeral the peace in his life can be.

To remind him of promises made.

To remind him of dreams.

Matt narrows his eyes as he focus on the men inside the sedan even as it pulls away. The snippets that he gets aren't reassuring - if anything, they make his chest tighten with fear and insecurity. With a deep breath, Matt grips the steering wheel a bit tighter and grits his teeth. But then the sedan is out of sight, as as far as Matt's reach goes, out of mind.

Only not completely.

Even with the shadow of both past and future looming across the California sky, the fact that this is his last day with Molly and Matty is a piercing reality. He can't ruin it - not when he can't be sure when he'll next be in Los Angeles, with or without his adoptive daughter. "Come on, Molly," he says with a strained smile, pushing back his fears and pushing down that twisting feeling that threatens to creep up from his stomach into his throat.

With that, he pulls the keys from the ignition and opens his door to step out.

California girls are unforgettable.. ~

She's been mentally singing that song since they first arrived in the state. Matt has to be annoyed by now, right? Molly Walker.. is in love with California. She missed it so much and it's a completely different world here. It's home for her and Matt. They should really try and come here more often.

Though the visit to the cemetery to see her parent's graves wasn't the most fun. It was still a fulfilling part of their trip. They haven't driven by her old house yet. That's something.. Molly hasn't really asked for yet. The young teen is sitting in the passenger side of the car and she tenses as well when she sees the car pulling off. A hand going to her father's arm and eyebrows raised. Call it women's intuition (err.. teen girl's) or just being paranoid after living through what she has in New York for so long. But Molly doesn't like that car.. at all.

But she quickly hides her worried expressed with a tight lipped, forced smile sliding across her lips. Blue eyes narrowed at that car as it disappears. Her blonde hair which now has dark red high lights as she hasn't washed the rest of it out yet, is gathered into a loose ponytail that she lets swing free as she exits the car and waits for her father. Dark brown cowboy boots over light jeans a dark green shirt can be seen on the clairvoyant today

The door shuts with a thump, and the sound is soon followed by the beep of the electronic lock and the mechanical click of the tumblers rolling into place to secure the vehicle. By the time he's walked around to the other side to meet Molly and head up to the house, all outward evidence of his apprehension has disappeared. There's no reason to meet Janice with a face she'll be able to see right through to Matt's underlying emotions. There's no reason to ruin this day.

It's been refreshing to spend the last few weeks in t-shirts and open button-ups, but the reasons behind the change in clothes is constantly there for Matt. As needed as this vacation may be, that doesn't change the fact that he was forced to take it. Walking up to Janice's front door, Matt breathes a sigh before looking sidelong to Molly and lifting a hand to press the buzzer.

There's no response. Which isn't to say that the doorbells rings and no one comes to the door, there's just no ring at all. It's only then that Matt notices that the buzzer isn't illuminated when depressed. The house is quiet on the inside, no sound of a television, a radio, appliances, nothing.

That the door isn't locked isn't much of a surprise, given that Janice was expecting Matt and Molly's arrival.

How am I going to tell him?

How am I going to do this?

Oh, God. How am I going to tell him?

"Dad I.." she doesn't say anything else though and lapses into silence. Molly looks up at her father with a worried expression on her face. "Is everything okay?" she decides to ask her father in a soft voice. A prickling sensation creeping up her spine, she's getting the creeps. First the car.. now something seems weird at the house. The young teen doesn't even tell her dad what she's doing, she simply places a hand to her forehead and bows her head.

Though it would seem silly to most, because Molly knows exactly where Janice is.. she might be able to see what's going on inside if she just looks. And so with one name on her mind.. Janice. She exits her body and sees what she can see.

The resonant tone of Janice's voice ringing in the back of Parkman's mind on a casual sweep of the house doesn't inspire confidence. That he can feel his son's mind inside as well is only mild relief, the soft buzz of a sleeping mind a small comfort.

Matt's plan to meet Janice with a mask of ease is shattered when he reaches the door and hears what's happening inside the minds of those behind it. Matt is hesitant to try the door, but it only lasts for the span of a breath before he curls his fingers around the knob and twists it open, practically charging across the threshold.

If the sound of the door opening in such a rush doesn't alert Janice to her guests, Matt calling out her name - both verbally and so it echoes in her brain - will.

Molly's vision is stereoscopic in many ways and somewhat unsettling when she can see herself in the vision. She sees Matthew charging through the front door into the foyer, quickly making headway into the living room where Janice sits on a burgundy red sofa, cradling a slumbering Matthew Junior in her lap, his head on her shoulder and legs curled up beneath. She's been crying, that much is evident from the smudge of her mascara and the puffy redness to her watery eyes.

There are no lights on anywhere in the house, no hum of electricity, nothing that would imply any semblance of electricity. Bills aren't the cause of this power outage.

"I'm sorry," is the first thing out of Janice's mouth as her head shakes from side to side slowly. At her side, Janice's cell phone rests, its touch screen black and turned off. Her voice is hushed, so as to not wake Matty from his rest, his little policeman patterned pajamas a subtle nod to the father he admires, even if at a distance.

"I didn't tell them anything, I— I didn't…" Janice's jaw trembles, her throat tightening and lips downturning towards a frown. "Matt I dont know what happened, I— I couldn't call. I didn't— "

As Molly resettles into her body she wobbles and rubs her forehead. "Trippy." She comments softly before rushing in and closing the door. Coming to sit next to, but not far from Janice. Her eyes on the older woman but then on her kid brother. So cute.. and quiet.. and sleeping.. what the hell happened?

Matt probably wouldn't be happy with her being all.. what the hell happened though, she so just sits and waits for Janice to further explain. All she knows is.. something has the mom freaked. "It's okay Janice." She says softly, tilting her head with a frown. Trying her best to comfort the mother. "But.. maybe dad should be paying you more child support or something.. if you um.. can't pay your bills." She winces, funny, right?

While his velocity through the door would set Matt up to barrel his way to Janice's side once in the living room, but he pauses not five feet from the couch. There are only a few answers that satisfy all the necessary questions, including those pertaining to the black sedan and the particular mental voice Matt was able to pick up from within it.

Matt slowly moves toward the couch and settles down beside Janice and Matty, giving Molly a stern look at her attempt at humor. Definitely not the appropriate time. "It's okay," he says to Janice, reaching to cover one of the hands that holds his son. His eyes drift from the frightened and shaken face of his ex-wife to his slumbering progeny, and he swallows, his eyes narrowing as he tries to fit the puzzle together.

"What did they want?"

Depending on the answer, Molly very well might have a job to do.

"I don't know," is Janice's murmured assessment, her eyes wide. "I don't— " she looks past Mat, to Molly, her expression wrenching into one of guilt and embarrassment before looking down to the young boy she's holding against her shoulder. "They said they were checking up on us, seeing… seeing how our holidays went, asked if we'd seen anyone suspicious." Janice's eyes flick back up to Matt, "They searched the area outside of the house, Matt. They— they asked why the electricity was off and I told them it was because I was late on the payment."

Janice's jaw unsteadies at that reminiscence of lie, her eyes watering freshly. "He did it," she whispers to Matt, fear in her eyes. "He turned off everything in the house, Matt… Everything." Eyes saucer-wide, Janice stares up at Matt without needing to quantify who is the 'he' that she speaks of.

Matt's worst fears confirm that vaguery.

"Wait.. baby bro is like us?" Molly shakes her head and looks to Matt for confirmation. Though she can't know for sure they're speaking of her brother.. she can only assume. Molly looks down at Matt and brushes some hair back from his head with a faint smile. Whispering softly to him, "You're special little guy.."

Gaze locking onto Matt and then Janice she places her hand in her lap. "Dad.. they can't stay here. Not alone. We have to bring them with us!" One, because she doesn't want to leave her baby brother. Two, she likes Janice and she can help her paint her toes and stuff and Three, they aren't safe, right?

Flipping her blonde hair behind her shoulder she looks over to her father with a pleading expression. "I don't know who they are dad and I'm sure you won't tell me but if people are snooping around Janice and Matty here.. don't you think they should be put somewhere safe?"

Hey, they can all get a like.. flat or something in the city..

Why the electricity was off was perhaps the easiest piece of the puzzle to sort out. It can be confirmed with an SLC test - what Matt has put off again and again, dreading the next pediatrician visit or the next cold that Janice deems worthy of a doctor's visit.

Oddly enough, the fact that his son has manifested as a technopath is what has him frowning more than the fact that he's manifested at all.

He nods to Janice, his lips held tightly together while Molly spouts off her opinion. "With us is the worst place they could be, Molly." The west coast is inarguably the safer bet. "How long has he been asleep?" he whispers to Janice even as he reaches into the pocket of his jeans for his phone. He flicks his fingers relatively deftly key in a search before he hands the phone over to Molly.

The screen displays a biography page on Wikipedia, displaying one Simon Broome. There're only a few reasons why Matt would give Molly a picture of someone without any verbal cues.

All this talk only makes Janice more nervous, Molly's impish demeanor unable to lighten the mood even the slightest. Swallowing audibly, Janice shakes her head and looks down to the little troublemaker slung over her shoulder, stroking her hand over his back. "An hour, maybe… maybe a little more. He was— he was fussy, frustrated. I was trying to watch something on the news, and… and the television kept turning off by itself. Eventually he just started crying and— and everything turned off, Matt. Everything. My cell phone's battery is dead, everything's just… off."

Swallowing awkwardly, Janice looks to Molly with a fearful expression of having dragged that precious young girl into this mess, then back to Matt. "Matt he's… he's just a little boy, he— it couldn't have been him." Sucking in a sharp breath, Janice barely manages to remember to breath out, her exhalation shuddering and laced with emotion.

"They— They said they were with the Department of Evolved Affairs," Janice finally clarifies. "They said that someone— that they were concerned about someone coming to hurt us because of our connection to you." Very subtly, there is an accusing tone metered out.

"Well how are you going to protect them, if you're over there?" meaning the east coast, as Molly rolls her eyes and takes the phone and nods her head. Whatever dad has planned, she trusts him. And she closes her eyes to find the Simon Broome in the picture. As her mind's eye begins to look for the man, a static appears in front of her and she shakes her head as a plethora of images assaults her mind and she screams out and falls back onto to the couch.

"Fucking A!"

She yells as she rubs her forehead. "Sorry dad.. I.. that freaking hurt." She winces and hits herself upside the head a few times. "I really hate trying to find people that have duplicates.. it really hurts." She says moodily and keeps her eyes closed. The images running through her mind rapidly before she opens them again and stares up at her father, handing him the phone. "No go." She shakes her head. Hello headache of doom.

Matt tenses at Molly's scream, both for her well-being and success and Matty's rest. If he went down fussing, it's unlikely that startling him awake will be the best option. They've been visiting regularly enough that Matt doesn't feel like he's intruding when he takes the phone back and gestures toward the bathroom. "Go grab some Tylenol or something," he whispers, that blanket concern evident in his tone and expression.

He pockets the phone, his eyebrows furrowing as he thinks. There are plenty of people who, for some reason or another. It's pointless to ferret out exactly who Broome and his cronie meant - if anyone. He holds his hands out to take Matty away from Janice, asking for permission with raised eyebrows and a tucked chin. "Let's try waking him up," he murmurs. "Then we can make a plan."

"Stupid freaking replicators with their replicating selves and being stupid.." Molly says as she stands and squeezes her nose, she thinks she's about to sneeze but she doesn't. Wrinkling her nose she sighs and shakes her head. "Hey don't give me that look, I'll end you." she says softly and quickly kisses the toddler on the forehead before she dashes out to the kitchen.

Upon finding the meds in the kitchen she yells out, "Oh no.. watch out. I'm slowly becoming one of those girls that have neglectful fathers that take pills to fill something, somebody rescue me.. please!" she says in mock horror and then her face peeks from around the corner. "I'm gonna run to the bathroom." She says with a impish grin at her father and then she's off again.


Matt's answer is firm and in total opposition to the badge he wears when in his suit of Thomas Pink armor. All he can do in response to Molly is roll his eyes and suppress a sigh. "Broome doesn't want him hurt, I know that much." He looks to his son with a weak sort of smile, holding an arm wide to invite the boy into his lap.

"You did this, Matty?" he says, the smallest chuckle threading through his words. He shakes his head, and his smile grows. "Pretty cool. Think you can do it again, so I can see?"

A blank stare from his son ensues, followed by a guilty pop of his brows up and downwards track of his lips. He shrinks back, shyly, staring down at his lap. "I yelled," Janice admits in a hushed voice as she watches Molly track off to the kitchen, soon turning her attention back to Matt. "When— when I figured out what he did I yelled at him." Which likely explains his reticence on utilizing whatever gift it is he may have again.

"Matt, why… why are these people interested in our son?" Janice's voice takes on a quaver-beat, one of her arms slipping around Matthew Junior's shoulders. "Why can't we… why can't we report this? Matt you work for the government we— we have to report this. The people at the DoEA told us that when Matty— when he— manifested," said like an ugly word, "that we'd have to tell them. Bring him in."

"Which is exactly why you're not going to do that," Matt says with narrowed eyes, though it's obvious that he's doing his best not to appear stressed or upset, for Matty's sake. "They'll run all sorts of tests to determine what tier he's in." And it's likely that Matty is at least Tier 2, but given his age and inability to control his new ability - whatever it exactly is - may bump him up to 3.

These are things Matt would rather not think about.

"It's okay, Matty," he says to reassure the toddler. "I want to see. I won't get mad," he adds, shaking his head to convey his sincerity. He leans in a little closer to stage-whisper, "Think of all the ice cream that will melt if you don't turn the fridge back on."

Confusion turns to frustration, quickly, on Janice's face as she sits up straight and sucks down a mouth full of angry words. As her arm tenses around Matt's son, the boy looks up to his father warily, brows furrowed and lips pursed in silence. After a moment his attention turns to the television, then away and back to his father. There's a loud beep from each of the smoke detectors in the house and a hum of everything electronic turning on in the entire house, followed by a yelp of surprise from Molly in the direction of the bathroom.

Lights come on, the television turns on, faucets spew water, the blender in the kitchen rumbles to life. Then, just as fast, everything flicks off and Matty's little lips purse together, followed by a string of laughter and a smile. "I'm gonna' be like you, dad." Pride shows in the little boy's expression as his lips part and toothy smile spreads from ear to ear.

Mat Parkman never once said that about his father, not without some sense of dread.

Janice is stricken with silence, her eyes glassy with tears and a hand clasped over her mouth in horror at the display of her son's ability. Those wide eyes square on her ex-husband's, and Janice's mind resonates with that fear and apprehension. What are we going to do?

The situation, the manifestation of his son's ability, is a harbinger of hardship and a life lived in shadow. It may very well be the last time Matt sees his son.

He turns this way and that as he watches his son show off his new talent, and he can't help but smile. It's no form of technopathy that he's ever seen before, but that doesn't mean much. There is a simple parental pride mixed in with his concern and abject fear for his son. A laugh bubbles out of him at Matty's declaration, and he can't help but reach out to collect the boy into a hug, even if it means breaking his mother's own protective, shielding arm.

"Remember what I said before the eighth, Janice?" Matt says after a moment, dogged determination to follow a preconceived course of events coming to share space on a face already marbled with various emotions. I need to make a phone call, and you and Matty will go someplace safe. Better to make a clean cut. Start fresh, where no one knows you.

The boy is eager to accept the embrace from his father, too young to internalize the conflict of hardly ever seeing the man. There is love there, unconditional at this age, though there is no telling what future growth and resentment could bring. His tiny arms wrap fast around Matt's neck and shoulders, and the boy leans in to press a kiss to his father's cheek, smiling with pride.

Janice seems to be conveying the other end of the emotional spectrum as she slowly stands, her hands shaking and throat working up and down in tight swallow. "No— no I— we have— " a life here would sound petty, still does when it helplessly resonates in her head. Tears well up fat in Janice's eyes, her shallow jaw unsteadies and teeth pluck at her bottom lip.

"You can't do this to us. We— we just got started on this family. Matt you can't— you can't just expect us to pack up and leave everything behind." Her voice raises, with a nervous tremor that is hauntingly familiar.

From the kitchen, avacado colored as it is, raised voices ring all the way into the living room. "You can't expect us to just pack up and leave when you get a bad feeling, Maury! God damnit Matt just started school here!" His mother's voice is fraught with emotion, as much as his father's is. They are but muted silhouettes when reflected in the darkened television screen that Matt Parkman stares into.

"Well what the hell do you expect us to do? You think I like this? It's a transfer I have to go where the— where work goes. DOn't make this out to be my fault!" Maury's voice, deep and full of resentment echoes off the walls.

A child should never have to hear his parents argue.

That is no less true today than it was then.

Matt narrows his eyes as he holds Matty close to him without restricting the naturally wriggly toddler's movement. Janice, Matt echoes in her head, the tone warning and almost scolding. His eyes dart from her to the boy in his arms. They have better ways of communicating, even if they are divorced - even if Matt is the only one who can relate to what it's like to have parents argue as if you're not there.

We don't have much choice. You could stay here, but your life won't be normal. Matty will be tested again and again, and if they don't take him away, they'll probably require him to be on constant suppression drugs. Who knows what that does to you long term, especially at Matty's age? They haven't tested that. They haven't had the opportunity to, as far as Matt's aware. I know it doesn't sound like it, but this is the best way to have a life that's even close to normal. I know it's hard, but you have to trust me.

There is a precarious knife's edge that Matt walks in this situation, veering off either side could mean a descent down the same road as his father. Janice's eyes are wide, reddened on the edges and wet with tears again. Perhaps Matthew Junior knows, maybe that's why he hides his face against his father's neck, maybe that's why he grows so silent.

Matthew Parkman you are not going to do this to us. Janice's voice resonantes in Matt's mind tinnily. What kind of life can you expect us to have? Hiding? Running? You're the one who helped install this entire system, you're the one who works with the President for Christ's sake! Fury is evident in both her mental voice and in her reddening face, in the vein throbbing at her temple. This is our son's life and I am not letting you make that decision for him! You work for the government you can make things happen! You promised me you'd keep us safe!

Agreeing to it then, what feels like an age ago before the riots, and agreeing to it now feels like wholly different ideals.

The easy answer would be to have Matty make the decision, but it is a choice that carries consequences no matter way they go. His hand rubs Matty's back in an attempt to ease him. Even smaller choices about whether to continue to hold his son or send him away to his room to play. In the end, Matty's own needs outweigh those of his father, and Matt pulls the boy away from his neck and sets him on the ground. "Hey, Slick - Mommy and Daddy need to talk. Why don't you go play in your room for a little bit?"

Wide eyes from the boy tell a story, one that Matt lived in his youth. Matthew Parkman Junior stares up at his father uncertainly, arms down at his side and attention unwavering. He looks away, without another word and lets his head hang, nodding subtly before slinking off around his father and out of the living room. Janice watches this retreat of her boy, one hand cupping her mouth and fat tears rolling down her cheeks.

When her attention turns back to Matthew Senior, there's a lurching sensation in her chest and a pang of guilt in her heart. Once Matty is out of sight, Janice takes a step closer to her ex-husband, brows lowering and voice quite physical. "How can you do this to him?" She sharply whispers, one hand pawing at her face to dry her tears. "He's just a boy, you're— he's never going to have a normal life. We are always going to be looking over our shoulder. What about your job how can you just— leave? They'll find you."

This is Janice's misconception: She presumed Matt would be going with them.

Matt stands as Matty leaves, making the mental vow to himself to salvage as much of this day as he can once they've made the proper arrangements. Reaching out across the house, Matt finds Molly's mind. Go to Matty's room. Distract him with games. There's no more explanation than that, partially because of Janice's demand on his attention.

"I don't need a lecture, Janice," he says with a sigh. "None of us have normal lives. And I'm not really in any position to change that. Maybe ever. All I can do is try my damndest to not make it worse. Do you still have that piece of paper I gave you?" He asks, reaching for one of her hands even as he slips a hand into his pocket to retrieve his phone again. "It's important now - more than ever." But all it has is an address scrawled on it in Matt's hurried penmanship.

"Yes," is Janice's sharp answer, "I have it. I put it in the night-stand next to my bed, but— " Her rebuttal is cut off, guilt suddenly crossing her expression as tears well up in her eyes again. Then, out of frustration at her situation, Janice twists her words into a shank to use against the soft, tender heart of her ex-husband. "I'm seeing someone, Matt. I can't— I can't just leave. You can't expect me to uproot my— our whole life just because you have a bad feeling about something. There's no guarantee that what he can do is dangerous."

Desperation paints everything Janice does, everything she says. "It's hard enough living in your shadow. How do you expect either of us to have a life when we're going to be looking over our shoulder every minute. How is this fair?"

The fact that Janice has been able to successfully move on even with Matty reminding her everyday of her biological attachment to him, is a brutal stab at both Matt's ego and his own residual affection for his ex-wife. His eyes widen at the confession, then narrow as he pulls up his guard, if only to keep Janice from seeing how much it hurts.

"Sorry, that I'm putting Matty's needs over yours," he snaps back, his voice a poisonous hiss. "It isn't fair. But it's a fresh start." Or as fresh as it can be. Matt's done what he can to keep his family out of the media when he's been thrown into the spotlight for various political reasons, and depending on how the Ferrymen handle them, that connection may not matter.

He takes a deep breath and sets his jaw, staring down Janice as if she were some dangerous obstacle in his way rather than the mother of his son. "I don't want to take him away from you, Janice."

The implication being that he will, if it becomes necessary.

"You wouldn't dare!" Janice shouts back, stepping close enough to jab two fingers against Matt's chest, fresh tears streaming down her cheeks. "Don't you— " her voice becomes a sharp whisper again, "don't you fucking dare think for one moment that I will let you walk out of here with our son!" Her hands ball up into fists, jaw trembles and face flushes with color from the boiling anger behind her eyes.

Silent in the time it takes for her to strangle back a sob, Janice clenches her jaw shut anf stares upwards at Matt defiantly. She doesn't have a protest in her any longer, doesn't have the fire of frustration.

What she does have though is doubt, and enough of it to make this entire situation worrisome. Would she honor the Ferrymen's stipulations of relocation? Would she try to flee with their son back to their old life? Would she endanger Matthew Junior?

So many 'What If's.'

One easy way to take care of them.

A step Matt doesn't want to take.

A step that would ensure the safety of his son.

All with a reason - an excuse - that Matt has regrettably used before.

Closing his eyes, Matt takes a deep breath. I won't, Janice, he projects with quiet reassurance. I don't want to. When he opens his eyes again, there's a teary film that clings to them, but they don't break to fall to his cheeks. Had she not divulged information about her personal life not associated with Matty, he might have reached out to touch her. Perhaps, in some parallel universe, he does. Then again, in some parallel universe, none of this would be an issue in the first place.

Bringing his phone up, Matt scrolls to find the contact labeled N B and place the call, slowly moving the phone to his ear as he holds Janice's gaze.

It rings several times, all the while that Matt holds Janice's steady stare, one as filled with tears as Matt's own eyes are. Over the line, there's a voice that crisply and warily responds in greeting. «Hello?» Noah Bennet's voice is unmistakable, a certain expectance and emboldened strength. As familiar as Matt is with Noah's voice, he can't help but feel a fragility in it now that wasn't there prior to November 8th.

He sounds like he's aged a decade in the last month.

"Who are you calling?" Janice demands to know, her eyes wide and glassy, hands curled into fists at her side and one brow raised slowly.

"It's me," Matt says when the recipient of the call picks up. There's no other identification needed. Like Noah, Matt's own voice is unmistakable, even if his number wasn't already in Noah's phone to identify the caller. "I need you to move in Los Angeles. Give me the day to get ready. If anything changes, I'll let you know."

He doesn't break his eye contact with Janice, and it's only after he's conveyed the necessary information over the line. His name is Noah, he projects to her. He isn't with the government.

He isn't with the government causes Janice to bat her lashes in disbelief, part her lips in wordless protest and cover her mouth with one hand. Suddenly everything on the news starts to pile together, stories of terrorists and human trafficking, Registry subversion and all of it happening not only under her husband's nose… but perhaps with his implicit cooperation.

«Understood,» is Noah's curt response over the other end of the phone. «You need to be out of the area before it happens. We'll make it look like a kidnapping.» Noah's pause allows Matt to hear the squeaking sound of emotion croaking in the back of Janice's throat as she slouches down onto the sofa, hiding her face behind one hand as she struggles not to make a sound while crying. The gravity of the situation has finally hit her.

«You have 24 hours.»

Then, Matt Parkman will never see his son again.

There's no need for goodbyes, at least over the phone. Matt pulls the phone away from his ear and ends the call before tossing the device to the couch as if it held some sort of disgusting, hateful being. Taking another deep breath, he makes his way to Janice's side, reaching for the hand that doesn't shield her face and giving it a strong squeeze.

"I'm sorry," he whispers. "They'll be here in the morning. You'll be safe. That paper - that address is how you can reach me, but it'll be slow. Whatever happens, don't tell them about it. They won't want you talking to me at all, but I won't let that happen." Losing all contact with his son is simply unacceptable, even if that contact is only one-way.

"Janice," he adds after a moment of simply holding her hand, his eyes focused on the floor rather than her. "Janice, I'm sorry. But…we have to try to make this day count. For Matty."

Tearful eyes stare up at Matt, eyes of a woman he loved with all of his heart and the eyes of a woman who would betray that love with another man. It is the curse of his ability, to never have had that peace of ignorance that would have remained had he never heard those stray thoughts all those years ago. Maybe in some paralell universe they're happy, maybe in some other dimension there is hope.

"I know," Janice officers in a tight, weary voice that betrays her own hurt. What she knows isn't certain, only that she knows they'll be safe, because even when she wasn't faithful to him, Matthew Parkman was always fathful to her. Even if their love has faded, the son that love created keeps them tenuously connected.

Leaning forward, Janice lifts her free hand and rests her palm against Matt's cheek, her thumb stroking away a tear that rolled down beneath one eye.

"I know."

She knows he had become his father.

To save them.

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